Last year, the United Football League (UFL) delayed the start of training camp and regular season games, and continued to lose money (a trend that started in its first year of existence). The UFL eventually announced that the 2011 season would be shortened, leading many believe that it would not return in 2012. But lo and behold, the league came back earlier this year, albeit to little fanfare, and teams filled their rosters with athletes holding on to a dream of showing enough skill to get a chance in the NFL.
The UFL picked up in 2012 where it left off in 2011 – in financial trouble. The regular season kicked off in September; it has already come to a close after an announcement that the second half of the season will not be plead. For weeks, UFL players, their agents and unaffiliated third parties have complained that athletes signed to UFL contracts were not being paid on time, and the money that they had received came in mere partial payments. Owners would keep players from packing up their belongings and leaving by continuing to promise players of forthcoming payments. A couple of weeks ago, at least one owner even went as far as to provide players with personal guarantees that they would receive all outstanding fees by October 31.
But then came the news that former UFL coach Marty Schottenheimer was suing UFL founder Bill Hambrecht for $2.3 million owed, which was alleged to have been personally guaranteed. And CBS Sports cancelled its coverage of the second half of the 2012 UFL season. CBS Sports Network had a deal to broadcast two UFL games per week throughout the league’s eight week season.
Meanwhile the UFL is acting as if it is actively planning (and seemingly excited in doing so) for a 2013 season. While it would be nice to have a meaningful, stable “minor league” to the NFL for the purposes of player development, it is unfortunate that so many players have put their faith in a league that just cannot seem to get things right.